The only halfhearted claim made in David Hart-man’s passionately argued A Living Covenant is that it is not a political manifesto, but rather a theological treatise. It is both—and on both counts Hartman’s work is indeed an important contribution.

Hartman’s attempt to develop a seriously modern and authentically Jewish theology is a significant step in establishing a common discourse between Jews. He desires to move Torah into the center of Jewish and especially Israeli life. To do so, he projects an understanding of Torah that will be a challenge to the ultra-Orthodox as well as the religious Zionists, the messianists as well as those secular Jews interested in thinking about the ground of their beliefs.

Hartman’s central focus is on Jewish Law, or Halachah. By exploring the underlying meaning of Halachah, Hartman seeks to create a philosophy of Judaism that expresses some important aspects...

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